Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A retrospective by John Rickard

You may recognise the name, even if you don't know his work...

He has won a few times in the annual Pendle Open Art Exhibition, mostly in the landscapes and Pendle in Paint category and that gave John the spur needed to apply for a solo exhibition at The ACE.

We hung the exhibition yesterday, his first solo show in almost 20 years. John had an exhibition at Townley Hall in 1986, which mostly featured watercolours. So the show here, which has a mix of watercolours and oils shows lots of work that has not ever been seen before.

When I was chatting to John he explained that many of his works feature boats, water and often triangles, so keep your eyes peeled for triangles in the composition.

John has always loved painting, since he was a child. He experiments a lot. He gives demonstrations to art groups regularly and also makes films. His films are great, I'm trying to convince him to pop them on Youtube, so I can share the link here. (Watch this space).

A little bit about John; he was a printer - a job he loved as it included machinery, colour and artwork. He joined Pendle artists back in 1971. He used to love motorbikes, then moved onto a campervan in the 1980s and later on to Motorhomes. He said "the vans got bigger as the years went on". He loves to travel and the mobile homes have seen him go all over the UK and see much of Europe.

Some of the oils are painted like watercolours and are transparent on a white background - where the background colour becomes the highlights...

Like this one...

Called Colne Evening, there is no white on this picture at all, the windows and streetlights are made by leaving the canvas to shine through there.

In one of his films, 'Footsteps' John talks through the whole process of making this artwork...

He was inspired by Turner and encouraged by Turner's paintings about Venice (click here to see it) to experiment.

He starts with a drawing on canvas, then paints all the light parts with white acrylic and lets it dry - he puts more paint on the really light parts like the streetlight. Then he covers the work with liquin mixed with yellow ochre (sidenote - isn't ochre a lovely, ever so evocative word!) and covers the whole work. He lets that dry and then adds the colour to the rest of the painting and ends by scratching away at the painting to reveal the lighter colour underneath.

Sometimes John uses a palette knife and applies the paint more thickly, like this one...

A painting inspired by a trip to France, the Dordoigne - again in the Motor Caravan.

Sometimes he uses pen and wash,  a bamboo piece and Indian ink, to give a rough line.

Here in Mousehole, Cornwall - John uses the same technique he described earlier where the whites are scratched out while still wet. Do you recognise this picture? It was one of the winners in the 2013 Pendle Open Art Exhibition. This work was done from a composite of 3 photographs, imagined at low tide and inspired by John's trip this year to Cornwall in the Motor Caravan.

This painting is a previous Pendle Open Art Winner and is called Knowsley Street, Colne. It was created from memories of riding the streets in the 1950's around six o clock as the light was fading... John had a part time job, while still at school as a delivery boy for the butchers. I wondered if that was the butchers in the picture, but John told me Holt's was actually a grocer.

John often paints from memory and he often includes archival footage (his own) in his films. You can see why I want to share them with you!

I hope you get chance to see the exhibition. A few people were looking today as I was taking photo's and aswell as talking about the pictures, they were reminiscing about the streets and where they were. It was a nice experience to hear them.



This exhibition is open until January, free entry, and The ACE Centre is open from 10am until 4pm, Mondays to Saturdays.



  1. Wonderful paintings! Love the play on light and reflection.

  2. Wonderful work as always. John, you may not remember me but I worked with Dorothy for many years and met you at your house with Pete Edwards to look at some of your work. I still have one of your prints of Keighley. I started to paint again when I moved to Australia. If you are interested in seeing some of my work you can find it at www.jackymurtaugh.com. Please give my regards to Dorothy.

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